Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mkapa advocates rule of law

Africa can only develop if it manages to fight poverty with zeal and vigor while promoting good governance and the rule of law. The statement was made last week by the former President Benjamin Mkapa at a two-day National Rule of Law stakeholders’ forum that was organized by the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) over the weekend in Dar es Salaam. The former president described the rule of law as a guiding necessary in creating wealth and sharing the benefits to society. “It is further envisaged that the society will be empowered with capacity to hold their leaders accountable, promote good governance, reward good performance and curb corruption,” he told the gathering. “There is limited institutional capacity to ensure full accountability from both government and the citizen,” he admitted. “The governments are also constrained by pre-established and widely accepted sets of rules of political engagement,” he added noting that the forum would empower the public such that the citizenry understands their share of responsibility and demand for government compliance to the principles of due process. He further pointed out the main challenge in the endeavour to strengthen the rule of law is limited due to meager resources for legal reform.

Retired third phase President of Tanzania, Mr. Benjamin Mkapa

“So African countries seek support from development partners but unfortunately, most of this support for rule of law reform has been coming with agendas that take little account of the local context,” he said. “Too often, the result has been technical solutions that fail to match local needs...” he said emphasizing that “...it is crucial for legal reform processes be country driven.” He went on to cite that Many facets of the rule of law form essential components of sustainable development. “This was evident to me when in 2002  was appointed, together with the President of Finland, to Chair the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalisation...this conviction, grew even further after my joining the UN Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor in 2006...one of the highlights of the Commission’s work was the issue of rule of law and good governance,” he detailed. “After three years of intensive research and consultations, we proposed strategies for creating inclusive development initiatives that would empower those living in poverty through increased protections and rights,” he said. “In our final 2008 Report entitled Making the Law Work for everyone, we argued that as many as 4 billion people worldwide are robbed of the chance to better their lives and climb out of poverty, because they are excluded from the rule of law,” the former president concluded.

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